Everything a big car should be, except a bit underpowered
Window - Very early on there were big problems with the driver window. This seems common. The gearing for the vent and main window is cheap and frequently disengages either on up or down. You can pull it back up if the window is exposed, since there's no window frame on this car. My parents had a series of visits to the dealer and letters to Ford about this. Never was truly resolved. However, the other windows never had much trouble (they're not used as much as the driver's, but still). The moonroof has been magnificently flawless, as well as much superior in type and build to the standard "sunroof" you get on most cars today.
Valves - Sometime around 50k the car gained a knocking from some valve, but it never got worse or kept it from running.
Electronic Ignition Module - the Lincoln stopped dead once, ~70k, and wouldn't restart (zilch, zip, nada). It was the electronic ignition module, a simple fix. Luckily, these cowl-mounted types stop the car dead, period, so there is no question what the trouble is. Unlike the distributor-mounted types, which can keep you (or rather, your clueless mechanic) guessing and fixing non-problems for ages because sometimes they will allow the car to start.
Fuel Pump - I replaced the fuel pump ~100k, although it was not a great need. The mechanics said 1 of the mounting holes was machined straight through to the cooling manifold in the block, so that the pump must be mounted to keep coolant plugged. This is poor machining, but it never hurt us.
Other than this, nothing else occurred that is not due to "abuse" and neglect + age. Neglect is never giving regular oil changes until the car was almost 10 years old, and never having a coolant flush, or any such thing. When the car was on its last legs, I got a general lube job, including the differential. It was bone dry, just as I suspected, but against the mechanic's beliefs. That car would keep running no matter how much lifeblood was drawn out of it. Now, however, it probably has a vacuum problem too big for it to bear anymore so that it's hard to keep running, and last year I blew out its radiator for good. It hasn't been a regular car for 10 years and is de-registered. It also has had rust cancer in the front wheel-well rocker panels and the interior panels of the rear door entrances, but that started late and is a typical Lincoln problem of the age. Distressing to look at, but hardly important to its running ability.
I never owned the Lincoln; my parents do. However, for the last 10 years it's unofficially mine (long story), and now it needs some "restoration". I drove it plenty from the time I started driving, not to mention my prior experience being a passenger. (And don't think I didn't love cruising around in front of other teens in it! They could take their little Supras and shove it.)
This was a great car, my comments above notwithstanding. The Lincoln Town Car is incredibly handsome and manly (I'm a woman; I see cars as male, not as the stereotypical "she"). You cannot ask for a more stately and powerful presence outside a Rolls or a Duesenberg.
The car has tons of room unlike anything since; when they say 6, they MEAN 6 adults with wiggle room (1 Christmas I fit some 9 cousins in there). (The current Lincolns are 6 slightly squished adults.) There is plenty of leg and head room for everyone, in every corner (unlike the newest Lincolns). It has a huge trunk that you can get into yourself if you need to fiddle with anything back there (which makes repairs on stereos, etc, much easier) - even with the full-size spare in there on a shelf! You can go on a serious week-long vacation with 3 people easily in comfort, carrying all baggage where it should be, NOT in the back seat. It rides marvelously for an old standard shock/spring system. The seats are bench-type (separate fronts), nice and roomy and cushiony, but not too plush so you're sinking in too much.
It had power everything, long before such "niceties" became standard in your Yugos. And they still work on my Black Beauty.
The only "problem" is that the year was underpowered - due to the emissions tyranny gripping the country. Ford down-graded the 460 4-barrel to the "California" 400 2-barrel across the line for the year, before completely down-sizing the whole car the next year. Perhaps I should restate - the '79 has plenty of real "power", aka torque, as it had no problem keeping high speed on mountain grades. However, it was never as screaming-quick as the 460s were (we had a couple of those, too) and could not beat most mid-powered cars off the line.
This Black Beauty, despite its mechanical faults, was an incredibly forgiving vehicle which took a lot of long-distance vacations, a lot of everyday work driving until it was 8 years old, and general neglect and exposure (never had a garage), and kept on ticking. Certainly if you're talking reliability as far as needing transportation, it was terrific. We never had other troubles before it just got too old. This is still my favorite specific individual car, and they'll have to pry the keys from my cold dead hands!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th January, 2004